Let's get to it . . . Shawn from Hawaii:
Aloha O-Man. In regards to the draft, it is believed that defensive tackle is more talented than defensive end this year; is it possible that our Jaguars draft a tackle and move Tyson to the outside?
John: Alualu is critical to the Jaguars' defensive line. He is a disruptive force in the middle and a reason the team ranked No. 6 in the NFL in total defense this past season. What he is not is a pass-rushing defensive end. He can play the end position, but he is a tackle for the most part and he almost certainly will stay there.
Jodi from Nashville, TN:
I know the Jags pick 7th in the Draft, but how many picks do they have after that and where are they slotted?
John: The Jaguars right now have seven draft selections – one in each round. They gave up their seventh-round selection in the trade with the Jets for safety Dwight Lowery, but they have a seventh-round selection from Cincinnati as part of the Reggie Nelson trade. They will pick sixth in the second round and seventh in the third and so on because they and the Redskins each finished 5-11.
Steve from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
If the Jags make the desired improvements on offense (wide receiver, offensive line) and on defense (pass rusher, secondary, etc.) and given that Mr. Khan wants to win now, wouldn't the weak link have to be at quarterback? Not a knock on Gabbert, but relative speaking all the other positions would be really good and Gabbert is going to be a rookie QB for all practical purposes.
John: You're pretty much on target. We don't know yet how effective Gabbert will be with the new coaching staff and new offensive system, but entering training camp there is little doubt he will be the main question on the team. As you said, that's not a knock as much as the nature of being a young quarterback who is still establishing himself. I agree with you that I see this season essentially as a rookie season for Gabbert, and that's the proper perspective. The Jaguars are trying to build the structure around Gabbert and put the pieces in place. It will be up to him to develop and take advantage of the opportunity.
Christina from Section 123:
When you hear an analyst refer to a "skilled" position, what positions are they referring to and why are they considered skilled? I feel pretty certain it takes some skill to play every position otherwise we'd all be clamoring for NFL contracts.
John: Yes, it does take skill to play any NFL position. What the analysts typically mean when they say skill players are positions that commonly are meant to touch the ball – quarterback, wide receiver, running back and tight end.
Loftur from Columbus, OH:
I heard during Super Bowl week how Indianapolis is a great city for big events due to the fact that everything is close to each other in downtown Indianapolis. I would like to see the NFL move the combine around the cities in the league that have domed/indoor stadiums. Currently there are nine such stadiums in the NFL. I feel St. Louis and Detroit are equally good when it comes to being centrally located. Why always Indianapolis?
John: I doubt you'll get your wish. Indianapolis is perfect for the combine because there are a huge number of hotels very close to Lucas Oil Stadium, and coaches and personnel people are comfortable with Indianapolis. Football people are creatures of habit, and to coaches and personnel people, they have done the combine in Indianapolis enough that it's part of their routine. At its heart, the combine is about scouting players, performing medical exams and interviewing the players. Because you are herding many players to many events over many days, efficiency is key, and the league knows the terrain in Indianapolis. The part of the combine that is for public/media consumption is very small. If the football people like it in Indianapolis, that's where it should stay.
Ryan from Ohio:
How about that Floyd guy from Notre Dame? He looked pretty explosive at the combine.
John: You're talking about wide receiver Malcolm Floyd of Notre Dame, and he indeed helped himself at the combine. He answered questions from teams and media about alcohol problems in his past, and then – as importantly – he ran well on Sunday. He was clocked officially in the 40-yard dash at 4.47, which many believe locks him into no worse than the top third of the first round. The question becomes whether he is worth the No. 7 overall selection and whether he would still be available in the second round. The answer on both is probably not, which could mean trading back if the Jaguars want him.
John David Hill from Section 206:
I know we give all the praise to Boselli and he certainly deserves it, but we should not overlook how good the other bookend tackle was on that team. I mean, Leon Searcy was one of the better right tackles at the time. And he was the one protecting Brunell's blind side.
John: Absolutely Searcy was big-time – as good as any right tackle in the NFL at the time and a joy, by the way, to cover. The conversation about Boselli was never meant to overlook Searcy. He was a key part of those early Jaguars teams, and I've always thought of his injury in 2000 as the beginning of the end for that era. After making the Pro Bowl following the 1999 season he never played for the Jaguars again – and coincidence or not, the team of that era was never the same again, either.
Mike from Bridgeport, CT:
Instead of looking for a tight end via the draft, how about milking some production out of Zach Miller? When healthy, he's shown the ability to be a mismatch and a threat to opposing defenses in the passing game. Will he be healthy next season and do you think he will still be in the offense's plans under the new coaching staff?
John: 'When healthy' has become the key phrase when discussing Miller. When healthy, he absolutely can be a mismatch and can be a great complement to Marcedes Lewis. So far he hasn't been healthy enough. You also asked if he will be healthy next season. I wish I knew, but if I could see into the future, there are a few things I'd find out before that.
Jesse from Honolulu, HI:
Blackmon or Coples?
John: Blackmon, because Coples' college production scares me, but I'm not yet convinced Blackmon should go as high as No. 7. More NFL people than you think aren't sure, either.
James from Jacksonville:
If the Jags sign a wide receiver and defensive end in free agency and re-sign Mathis, wouldn't the other DE position be the biggest need?
John: If they re-sign Jeremy Mincey, no. In that scenario, I'd still see corner as the biggest need because I'm not sure you can sign Mathis with the idea that he'll be playing at a high level immediately next season, or that he's a long-term starter at corner. Wide receiver could still be a need, too. I'm a believer that Cecil Shorts can develop into a starter, but more than one receiver spot needs to improve from last season.
Dale from Hampton, VA:
All this talk about trading back happens every year. Gene Smith has shown a tendency to trade up instead of back in order to get the last player at X position that can be a starter. As beneficial as it would be to get more picks, Gene has shown that he would rather get a good player instead.
John: I, too, am a believer that in the draft – as in many things in life – the past is often a good indication of the future. I believe Smith will do whatever is necessary to strengthen the roster, and if that means trading back or up, he would do it. As for whether he'll trade back or up, as I've said often, there's simply no way to know how things will play out on draft weekend.
J Spence from Utah:
I have thought a lot about free-agent wideouts as every Jags fan most likely has. I think Steve Johnson is a very good wide receiver and still only 25. I would like to see him in teal. I also think Harry Douglas is a good fit, played under Mike already and knows his system.
John: Your ideas have a lot of merit, and it wouldn't be shocking to see the Jaguars pursue those players. New Orleans Saints free agent wide receiver Marques Colston just feels like it's a direction the Jaguars could go, and I keep thinking Reggie Wayne of the Colts would be the sort of reliable, precise route-runner that could help a young quarterback such as Blaine Gabbert. March 13 is approaching. Can't get here fast enough.
Any position takes skill
Let's get to it . . . Shawn from Hawaii: